Tag Archives: Israel

Top 10 Boutique hotels in Tel Aviv

If you’re looking to ‘live’ Tel Aviv, not just stay there, neighborhood-centered small hotels are just the ticket. By Abigail Klein Leichman —

 

The newly opened Shenkin Hotel.

Today’s tourist is trending toward neighborhood boutique hotels with a theme or a history, rather than cookie-cutter international chains lacking personal character. The trend began in Europe and has spread throughout Israel.

“The product has really boomed here in the last three to five years,” says Ronit Copeland, an international judge for the Boutique and Lifestyle Lodging Association (BLLA) and CEO of a hospitality industry consultancy based on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard.

A boutique hotel, she says, is defined by its soul rather than its size or price tag – properties range from three-star to five-star, and may include just a few rooms or up to 100. Either way, uniquely designed guest rooms and a high level of personalized attention are hallmarks of a boutique hotel.

Leslie Adler, co-managing director of the Israeli boutique hotel chain Atlas, adds: “People today are fed up with chain prototype hotels where each room has the same bed and same décor. People are looking for something more individual, where you are not just a number.”

The overall design concept and feel should be of a piece with the surroundings – unlike, say, a high-rise beach hotel. Many Israeli boutique hotels are situated in renovated historic buildings or in historic neighborhoods.

“The boutique hotel blends into the neighborhood by using elements of design or activities,” Copeland tells ISRAEL21c. “For example, the hotel may have partnerships with restaurants in the neighborhood, or its own restaurant may buy raw ingredients from neighborhood businesses. It’s a cool, ‘locals know best’ kind of approach, very casual.”

In Tel Aviv, boutique hotels pepper the trendy streets around Neve Tzedek, Rothschild, Shenkin, Montefiore, the beachfront and the diamond district. “Each has a story to tell,” says Copeland. “The message is, ‘Let’s live Tel Aviv, not just stay there.’”

ISRAEL21c lists 10 of Tel Aviv’s top boutique hotels below. Please feel free to add your own choices to the comments section.

1. Shenkin Hotel, 21 Brenner Street

Opened in April 2013 on the renovated site of a former health clinic in walking distance of hot spots Shenkin Street, Rothschild Boulevard, the Carmel Market and Neve Tzedek, the 30-room Shenkin has a spa, executive lounge, outdoor dining patio, and rooftop sundeck with a 360-degree view of Tel Aviv.

“We offer the full experience of Tel Aviv, not just a place to sleep and have breakfast,” says co-owner Guy Bartal, 27. Guests are asked for their preferences in dining and leisure so that the staff can suggest a tailor-made itinerary.

“The owners come from Tel Aviv and have connections to off-the-beaten-path gems and happenings that only the locals know about,” says Bartal. “Most places our guests want to go, they can walk to. And we will be providing bikes at no charge.”

2. Alma Hotel & Lounge, 23 Yavne Street

The Alma lures guests with its chef restaurant. Photo by Itay Sikolsky
The Alma lures guests with its chef restaurant. Photo by Itay Sikolsky

Opened in 2012 by siblings Adi and Irit Strauss, the luxury Alma occupies a former six-family apartment house built in 1925.

It has 15 rooms (one wheelchair accessible) decorated with one-off antiques and contemporary furniture, 3D TV and bathrooms boasting Bulgari toiletries and walk-in jet showers or deep soaking tubs. In addition to its Lounge eatery, the hotel owners run three critically acclaimed chef restaurants near the premises.

“The Alma Hotel approaches, in a very eclectic design way, a niche market looking not necessarily for the beach but for a trendy area near Rothschild with the anchor of its restaurant as a commercial retail front,” says Copeland.

3. Hotel Indigo, 5 Aholiav Street

Each room at the Indigo has a unique mural.
Each room at the Indigo has a unique mural.

Opened this summer in the posh diamond district of Ramat Gan, the five-star Indigo is a little different than standard boutique hotels. With 91 rooms (decorated in Ralph Lauren colors, unique murals and handwoven Afghan rugs), Indigo-Diamond Exchange is the InterContinental Hotels Group’s first “lifestyle” property in the Middle East.

The chic resort for leisure and business travelers features a rooftop pool and lounge, spa and gym floor, library and French-Med bistro restaurant at street level. In contrast to many other boutique hotels in Israel, the Indigo is kosher.

4. The Rothschild Hotel, 96 Rothschild Boulevard

The Rothschild Hotel
The Rothschild Hotel

Opened in 2013 on one of Tel Aviv’s hippest thoroughfares, The Rothschild is situated in the historic building that was originally the home of Abraham Friedman, chief agronomist to the Rothschilds – the European family that bankrolled many early Jewish immigrant communities in what would later become Israel.

A photo album of the 19th and early 20th century Rothschild “startup” enterprise can be found in each of six single rooms, 16 double rooms and seven suites. The hotel was built with ecological responsibility in mind, incorporating natural materials such as leather, clay, stone, wood, brass and iron. Toiletries come from Es-Sense, a small factory on a farm in the Jerusalem hills that employs several workers with autism. An on-site chef restaurant specializes in seafood.

5. Hotel Montefiore, 36 Montefiore Street

One of Tel Aviv’s first boutique hotels. Photo by Ohad Reinharts
One of Tel Aviv’s first boutique hotels. Photo by Ohad Reinharts

One of Israel’s first boutique hotels, the 12-room Montefiore is housed in a restored 1920s heritage mansion just off Rothschild Boulevard. Each room is unique in shape and size, and displays the work of a different contemporary Israeli artist. Original period furnishings, wooden floors, tall windows, black marble-appointed bathrooms, deluxe linens, a multi-language lobby library, a chauffeur-driven limo and spa services are among the luxury touches it’s known for. An on-site brasserie serves Vietnamese cuisine.

6. Brown Urban Hotel, 25 Kalisher Street

A room in the Brown.

Located on a quiet street at the crossroads of Neve Tzedek, Rothschild Boulevard, the Carmel market and the artsy Nahalat Binyamin pedestrian mall, Brown opened in 2010. Its décor is described as “urban warmth, with a nod back to the faded glam of the ’70s.”

The 30-room hotel, owned by the Leopard chain, is dedicated to the local arts scene, displaying works ranging from street art to cutting-edge industrial design. A new Souvenir pop-up design store in the lobby – whoops, make that “living room” — offers original Israeli-made items. There’s a sundeck, two outdoor bars and complementary bicycles. Also of note: While many boutique hotels are for adults only, the Brown allows children and pets.

7. Townhouse, 32 Yavne Street

Opened recently in a newly restored 1932 Bauhaus building at the corner of Rothschild Boulevard, the Townhouse is a four-star property with 19 rooms, each custom furnished by Kastiel, Israel’s premiere design house. The hotel has a communal kitchen, loaner bikes and what Conde Nast Traveler refers to as “a quirky living room” where breakfast is served.

8. Shalom & Relax, 216 Hayarkon Street

A guest room at Shalom & Relax Hotel

One of six Atlas boutique properties in Tel Aviv, Shalom & Relax opened in 2010 and was built in the style of a Connecticut beach house, as it sits just across the way from Tel Aviv’s beachfront. It was named one of Tripadvisor’s Travellers’ Choice top 25 hotels in Israel this year (Atlas’ Melody and ArtPlus also made the list for Tel Aviv). Shalom features a sunroof terrace overlooking the beach and is near the pubs and clubs of the Tel Aviv Port.

9. Diaghilev Live Art Hotel, 56 Mazeh Street

Voted one of the top 25 hotels in Israel by Tripadvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards 2013, the Diaghilev has 54 art-filled rooms spread over six stories. It is named in tribute to Russian art critic Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev, founder of the Ballets Russes. Just off Rothschild Boulevard in a Bauhaus structure, the Diaghilev features a unique nocturnal concept of darkened bedrooms and all-black sheets and pillowcases said to “promote restorative sleep that ensures all-day alertness and energy.”

10. The Varsano, 16 Hevrat Shass Street

The New York Times called the Varsano “an amazing and stylish place to stay.” Situated in quaint, trendy Neve Tzedek not far from the beach and Old Jaffa, the hotel offers eight large, contemporary-designed suites in historic houses with inner yards and patios. Each suite has a living room, fully equipped kitchen and dining area. The two-story Family Suite has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The Varsano does not have a restaurant, but it is within a 10-minute walk of many cafés, restaurants and bars.

mh- New York Jewish Guide.com

Coming to America: Israeli of Iraqi ancestry gets the ‘Sephardic’ treatment

In Israel we hardly ever used the term Sephardic, lumping together all Jews from Arab lands. By JP– @ New York Jewish Guide

Eyal Solomon was clued in on Americans’ use of the term Sephardic at a Shabbat meal in NY.

Eyal Solomon was clued in on Americans’ use of the term Sephardic at a Shabbat meal in NY. Photo: Eyal Solomon
I had only known my girlfriend for a few weeks when she invited me to a friend’s house for Shabbat dinner on the Upper West Side.As a 44-year-old secular Israeli who had moved recently to New York City after my divorce, I didn’t have much experience with American Jews.Her friends were great: educated, liberal traditional Jews who seemed genuinely interested in getting to know me. While their religious rituals were new to me — I never saw people washing their hands and not speaking before making blessings on the challah — it was the conversation that shocked me.“Are you Sephardic?” one of the guests asked me. Everyone stopped talking.

“I have some Sephardi friends,” another guest offered.

I froze, my fork midair. They weren’t really inquiring about my origins — my dark skin was a dead giveaway. What they were really asking me was, “How come you don’t behave Sephardic? We’re not in Tel Aviv anymore, Toto.

In Israel, when people wanted to know where my family was from, the answer was easy: Both my parents came to Israel in 1951 as part of the “Iraqi Exodus,” where they quickly assimilated into the Israeli melting pot. I was a first-generation Israeli and proud second-generation “Iraqi” — shorthand for urbane, even keeled and good with numbers.

But in Israel we hardly ever used the term Sephardic, lumping together all Jews from Arab lands. Moreover, the literal term Sephardim — i.e. from Spain and Portugal — does not apply to Iraqi Jews who, like most Mizrahi Jews from other Arab countries, were never persecuted and exiled during the Spanish Inquisition. The Iraqi experience was different from the Moroccan, Tunisian, Yemenite, Egyptian, Spanish and Greek ones.

Jews of European descent used the term Sephardic to denote anyone who wasn’t like them: the non-Ashkenazi. The category may have been helpful for religious Jews, who followed either Ashkenazi or Sephardi customs in prayers and Jewish law, but it had no relevance among the secular.

Moreover, the discrimination in Israel against the non-Ashkenazi immigrants from the 1950s through the 1970s was a thing of the past. The older generation, like my mother, loved to make distinctions between ethnic groups.

“We’re Iraqi,” she would exclaim proudly, even though her blond hair would have people believe otherwise. “Iraqis are like the Ashkenazim of the Sephardim,” she would add, explaining how her people were educated and modern, not like the others — implying how backwards other groups were.

I’m sure that somewhere out there, a Moroccan or Tunisian or Egyptian mother was making the very same boast.

Yet I never heard people my own age make these differentiations. We tended to categorize people by their socioeconomic class: Were they educated, artists, upwardly mobile, yuppies or creative types? After that initiation on the Upper West Side, I discovered many American Jews used this terminology. My girlfriend’s friends would describe a date as “too Sephardic,” which I learned meant pushy, sleazy, aggressive. What they termed Sephardic was what Israelis often termed “Arss,” Arabic for “pimp” — a derogatory term for the type of guy who opens his shirt buttons to expose his chest, sporting a large gold Chai, and has dice hanging from his souped-up BMW.

Over time I discovered that things are different in America: There’s the “Syrian” community – comprised not just of Syrians but Egyptians, Moroccans, Israelis and anyone who lived in the tight-knit Brooklyn and Deal, N.J., communities where family was paramount and outsiders hardly welcome. The “Persian” community in Great Neck on Long Island, the New York City suburbs (and Los Angeles, where my girlfriend lived before she met me) had similar values.

Often when someone in America would say Sephardic, they would be referring to someone from one of those communities, where the women marry young — usually older men who work in cash businesses such as shmattas or electronics — and the men look for a traditional “girl” to be a stay-at-home mom.

Little did I know that my girlfriend was just as bad. After we started dating, we both got to wondering how we’d never connected through JDate? We showed each other our profiles and I was appalled that she had unchecked the “Sephardic” box on the Jewish dating website (another American institution perpetuating the divisive stereotype).

“I didn’t want to date a Persian guy — they are too traditional for me,” she said.

She had left her Orthodox upbringing because she found it too paternalistic for her feminist tastes.

“Anyway, I never even saw your profile – you saw mine and rejected me,” she said. It was true: I’d discounted her because her profile said she was “traditional” and kept kosher in her house. As a secular Israeli who fought the stranglehold of my country’s rabbinical institutions, it was something with which I could not live.

“It’s not the same,” I told her. “I discriminated against you, personally, and you discriminated against a whole race of people.”

Who is worse: Her for discriminating against Sephardim as a group, or me for discriminating against an individual that doesn’t share my religious beliefs? We’ll have the rest of our lives to figure it out. We recently married and settled on a semi-kosher household (read: we don’t have bacon for breakfast).

But I have the last revenge: According to Jewish law, because she married me, she’s Iraqi now. And I don’t mean Sephardic.

mh-  New York Jewish Guide.com
mh- New York Jewish Guide.com

New Adom in the old station

By Debbie Kendall-JP-  @ New York Jewish Guide.com                                                            A Jerusalem favorite sports a more upscale style.

New Adom in the old station

New Adom in the old station Photo: Courtesy
Adom has been a popular restaurant in Jerusalem for the past 12 years, but the new incarnation in the First Station complex has brought about a change in both the menu and ambience.What was once an intimate Jerusalem venue is now a much larger cosmopolitan restaurant and bar.We were fortunate to meet Michael Katz, the executive chef of the Adom group, which also includes Lavan, Colony, Hanel’e and Little Italy. He said they have made Adom’s menu more upscale to distinguish it from the other places in the complex and to avoid competing with Colony.

The large restaurant holds 170 diners, including outside seating. The décor combines the rustic authenticity of the old train station building with the appropriate glamor of a restaurant of this caliber. Despite the size and high ceilings, my companion and I noted that the acoustics were very good. As the evening progressed, the lights dimmed and the crowd got younger and trendier, but you can still have an intimate conversation with your dining companions.

Adom2523769902554daThe entire staff has moved over from the previous location, and our waitress was particularly attentive and knowledgeable. The creative cocktail menu features photos of the staff, and each cocktail is named after one of them. I enjoyed Tamara’s Ginger (NIS 45), while my companion savored Rotem’s Sangria (NIS 45). There is also an extensive wine list that includes many European and New World options. We sampled a bottle of Flam Classico 2011 (NIS 160), which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, from a boutique Israeli winery in the Judean Hills.Of the starters, my favorites were the drum fish sashimi (NIS 56) with marinated artichoke hearts, pears and pickled beet root, and the beet carpaccio (NIS 48) with cheddar cheese, walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette. The beets were sliced paper thin, and the vinaigrette lent the perfect amount of acidity, complemented by the creamy cheddar. My companion favored the crab ravioli (NIS 56) with vongoli clams in a sage and Roquefort cheese sauce. She found it very fresh and light with a rich flavor.

The endive and rocket leaves salad with seasonal fruit and blue cheese (NIS 48) was a surprising delight, as I do not normally like those ingredients, but they worked really well. The cherry tomato salad (NIS 46), however, was a disappointment. It was beautifully presented and the colors were sensational, but the dressing lacked any punch.

Sometimes you try a dish that has you thinking about it for days afterwards, and judging by the popularity of the dish in question on surrounding tables, I don’t think I was alone in this feeling. Gnocchi with chestnuts and porcini mushrooms (NIS 68): the name does not do it justice. I could have been sitting in a villa in Tuscany as the perfectly made and cooked gnocchi melted in my mouth. I love the two main ingredients in any dish, but together and with a creamy sauce that was not too heavy, it was the perfect combination. Meanwhile, my companion enjoyed the beef fillet medallions (NIS 118) with bone marrow, pears and ginger in a red wine sauce. The beef was cooked as requested, and the sauce was a good complement, but it still did not beat the gnocchi. She also tried the seafood platter (NIS 118) with black risotto and curry sauce, which was very filling but slightly too heavy.

Again, the fish was very fresh, but she found the rich Cajun flavors quite overpowering.

Lastly, we tried the pasta with zucchini (NIS 62), served with sun- dried tomatoes, pine nuts and olive oil. The tagliatelle pasta is black (from zinc, not squid) and with the colors of the vegetables, it makes an interesting presentation. I loved the zesty flavor of this dish and it was a very generous portion, but my only critique is that I would have preferred more zucchini to make it a lighter dish.

For dessert, we found it so hard to choose among them that the waitress insisted on bringing most of them to try. My favorite was the seasonal fruit tart (NIS 42), which that night was pear tart made with crisp, buttery pastry and a rich almond crème, served with vanilla ice cream, strawberry coulis and white chocolate truffle – heaven! Luckily, my companion did not fight me for it, as she preferred the chocolate and peanut butter mousse (NIS 42). We both thoroughly enjoyed the other selection of Pavlova (NIS 42), tahini ice cream (NIS 38) and the crème brulee trio (NIS 36).

adom_restaurant1Whether you plan to enjoy a cocktail at the bar, an intimate meal for two or a night out with friends, the new Adom is a great addition to the Jerusalem restaurant scene and the perfect flagship restaurant for the new First Station complex.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Adom
Not kosher
The First Station, 4 David Remez St., Jerusalem
Tel: (02) 624-6242
Sun – Fri 6:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Sat – 1 p.m.-2 a.m.

mh- New York Jewish Guide.com

Top 10 things to do in Hezliya this Summer

 This city on the sea hosts a range of free festivals all season long, from beer tastings to music and dance.                                                                                             By Abigail Klein Leichman – israel21c- @ New York Jewish Guide.com

The Herzliya Beach Festival. Photo by Ohr Mani

The Herzliya Beach Festival. Photo by Ohr Mani

Not far from Tel Aviv, Israel’s coastal resort of Herzliya offers a host of festivals throughout the summer. Many of the events take place at the Accadia Beach or the Herzliya Marina, the largest marina in the Mediterranean basin.

If you’re in the area between June and September, hit Herzliya for one or more of these festivals:

1. Musikaitz (a contraction of the Hebrew words “music” and “summer”) features music, poetry and dance performances every Sunday from June to August in Ben Shefer Park.

2. Classical music concerts at sunset are open to the public in Herzliya Park every Saturday night at 7pm, June through September.

3. Music Festival on the Water, every Tuesday at 8pm in July and August at the Herzliya Marina Plaza, is highlighted by free, live performances by musical ensembles from all over the world.

4. Jazz at Sunset, a new series in Herzliya, runs every Thursday in July and August, 7-9pm at Accadia Beach Boardwalk. Before each show, students from the West Herzliya Conservatory will perform in the outdoor amphitheater at the entrance to the promenade. Free; bring your own chairs or mats.

5. Israeli folk dancing at the Marina beach gets going every Saturday morning at 10.30am and lasts until 2.30pm. If you prefer beach volleyball, there are courts all along the beach, open into the night hours.

Beach volleyball courts are open into the night in Herzliya. Photo by Ohr Mani

Beach volleyball courts are open into the night in Herzliya. Photo by Ohr Mani

6. Goldstar Zappa on the Beach Festival, June 19-21 at South Accadia Beach, is a great opportunity to see free performances by leading Israeli artists such as Berry Sakharof, Balkan Beat Box and Meir Banai. Food stalls, bars and arts and crafts vendors will be set up along the beachfront.

7. Watch a jet-ski competition on June 22 at South Accadia Beach, 10:30am to 3pm.

8. Dining on the Water Festival takes place July 3 and 4 along the beach boardwalk, 4-11pm. Some of Herzliya’s top hotels and restaurants will be offering reasonably priced samples of boutique cheeses, smoked sausage, artichokes, sautéed chestnuts, gourmet desserts, boutique beers and Israeli wine. Live performances, cooking classes and other activities are available, and there is no admission charge.

9. The Samuel Adams Longshot Competition and Beer Festival at the Herzliya Marina will run from 6-11pm. on July 18 and 19, open to ages 18 and older. Sample more than 100 different types of boutique beers to the sounds of live music, and root for your favorite home brew to win a prize.

10. End-of-Summer Beach Party on September 28 is a free extravaganza at Accadia Beach, complete with deejay music; beach sports; aerobics, Zumba and kickboxing sessions; a designer fair; and food and beverage stalls.

 

mh- New York Jewish Guide.com

 

13 must see-museums in Israel

There are more museums per capita in Israel than anywhere in the world, and they’re all bursting with innovation and creativity.

By Viva Sarah Press– @ New York Jewish Guide.com

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Photo by Ariel Jerozolimski

Israel has more museums per capita than anywhere else in the world. With 230-plus museums (and counting), visitors and locals have the luxury of choosing which topic — art, science, history, design, architecture, technology – appeals to them most.

Visit an Israeli museum on International Museum Day, May 16.
Visit an Israeli museum on International Museum Day, May 16. 

Every year since 1977, the International Council of Museums has celebrated the importance of these cultural institutions in the development of society with an International Museum Day on or around May 18.

Some 32,000 museums in 130 countries participate in the global event. Israeli museums will be marking this year’s International Museum Day on May 16, 2013 – offering free entrance (in most cases), and free guided tours.

If you’d rather not depend on eeny-meeny-miny-mo, ISRAEL21c offers this list of 13 of Israel’s must-see museums:

1. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Ranked among the world’s leading art and archaeology museums, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem should be your first stopover. The museum houses 500,000 objects, including the famous Dead Sea Scrolls; a grand collection of archaeological finds; an immense treasury of world Judaica; an amazing sculpture garden; and vast collections of primitive, European and modern art.

The museum was founded in 1965, underwent a massive $100 million renovation in 2009-2010, and is considered the largest cultural institution in the country.

The Israel Museum
The Israel Museum 

If the Israel Museum’s main location doesn’t satisfy your archaeological needs, head over to its Rockefeller Archeological Museum branch in East Jerusalem, which houses an extraordinary collection of antiquities unearthed in excavations conducted in the country mainly during the time of the British Mandate (1919-1948).

Rockefeller Museum
Rockefeller Museum

 

2. Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv

Give yourself at least half a day, if not a whole day, to visit this amazing historical and archeological museum.

The museum, opened in 1958, is divided into pavilions that house collections dedicated to folklore, photography, ceramics, excavations, postal history and philately, glassware, coins and anthropological artifacts. There’s also a planetarium onsite.

The Museum Shop is one of the best in the country for Israeli designer crafts, jewelry and Judaica.

3. Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv Art Museum
Tel Aviv Art Museum

 

Featuring works from Reuven Rubin to Yigal Tumarkin to Gal Weinstein and Michal Rovner, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art houses the best of Israeli art. Founded in 1932, it is one of Israel’s leading art and culture institutions.

In 2011, the museum doubled its gallery space with the opening of the inspiring, five-story Herta and Paul Amir Building – an art piece in its own right.

The museum also boasts works by more than a dozen world masters — including Vincent Van Gogh, Amadeo Modigliani and Pablo Picasso — as well as displays of design and architecture.

 

4. MadaTech, Israel’s National Museum of Science, Technology and Space, Haifa

MadaTech
MadaTech

 

Museums are known for their informal learning environments and MadaTech is Israel’s best location for making science fun. This is the place to explore, experience, discover and learn through play. It’s all hands-on at this museum, with dozens of science-themed exhibits and 3D movies.

Even the location is cool — the museum is housed in the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s first home.

5. Yad Vashem, Jerusalem

More than one million visitors a year walk through Yad Vashem, Israel’s living memorial to the millions murdered in the Holocaust.

Visitors follow a route that presents stories from a Jewish perspective of life in Europe prior to Adolf Hitler’s rule, Nazi persecution in World War II, and survivor testimonies.

The exhibits include authentic film footage, videos of personal interviews with survivors, historical documents, artifacts, personal items, memorial structures, gardens and commemorative installations.

Bring tissues – no one leaves Yad Vashem with dry eyes.

 

6. Design Museum Holon, Holon

Design Museum Holon
Design Museum Holon

 

Design Museum Holon opened in March 2010 and is already recognized as one of the world’s leading museums of design and contemporary culture.

Israeli architect Ron Arad designed the iconic building with flowing steel strips in various shades of red. The building itself is considered a work of art.

The museum constantly updates its exhibits with the best of industrial, fashion, textile and jewelry design displays. It’s worth the 20-minute drive from Tel Aviv.

 

7. Tikotin — The Museum of Japanese Art, Haifa

The only museum of its kind in the Middle East and the one you’d least expect to find in Israel, Tikotin houses thousands of pieces of Japanese art. The museum is dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of Japanese artworks and is said to have one of the best collections of Japanese art outside Japan.

Located on Mount Carmel, the museum introduces visitors to Japanese culture, promotes mutual understanding between East and West, and advances research into the arts and culture of Japan.

 

8. L. A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art, Jerusalem

There are two things going for the Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem: its permanent collections constitute among the most important exhibitions of Islamic art in the world; and it hosts an incomparable antique watch collection — including the famous Marie Antoinette, valued at more than $30 million.

The museum is located in one of Jerusalem’s prettier neighborhoods, not far from the Jerusalem Theater.

 

9. Museum of Art, Ein Harod

 

Most definitely off the beaten path, the Museum of Art in Ein Harod highlights Israeli art from the 17th century onwards.

The museum was established in the 1930s in a temporary wooden structure on the kibbutz in northern Israel. In 1948, it moved into a permanent building – becoming Israel’s first museum.

The museum has a remarkable collection of more than 16,000 paintings and sculptures by artists including Lesser Uri, Max Liebermann, Ludwig Meidner, Issachar Ryback and Jacob Epstein, among others.

The building itself is considered to be one of the earliest examples in the world of modernist museum architecture based on natural lighting.

10. Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem

Located near the Jaffa Gate in the Old City, the Tower of David Museum depicts 4,000 years of Jerusalem’s history. The museum is set up in a series of chambers in the medieval citadel known as the Tower of David, and includes a courtyard comprising archeological ruins.

 

The museum uses maps, holograms, drawings, models and video to depict Jerusalem under its various rulers over time.

Walk up the ramparts to see the best views of Jerusalem.

The museum and its grounds also host numerous festivals and special events throughout the year.

 

11. The Negev Negev Museum of Art, Beersheva

A much smaller museum than its counterparts in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or Haifa, this museum still has plenty to offer Israeli art lovers. The building was constructed in 1906 by the Ottomans and was recently restored to its original beauty.

The museum’s collection includes local and regional artworks in all media including photography, painting, drawing, ceramics and ethnographic works of Ethiopian Jews.

The museum’s courtyard is used as a venue for numerous happenings throughout the year.

12. Israeli Children’s Museum, Holon

Holon Children’s Museum
Holon Children’s Museum

 

The Israeli Children’s Museum opened in 2001 and has welcomed well over one million visitors since. It describes itself as an “educational and cultural institution providing experiences far different than any other Israeli museum.”

As one would expect at a kids museum, it’s all hands-on here. The museum offers five Story Trails exhibits that make the children active characters in the different imaginary adventures.

The museum also houses three interactive and experiential exhibits: Dialogue in the Dark (a social seminar on being blind); Invitation to Silence (simulating the sensation of being deaf), and Dialogue with Time(multimedia educational exhibition on aging).

All visits to the museum are guided and must be arranged in advance.

13. Olympic Experience Museum, Tel Aviv

The Olympic Experience Museum puts the focus on sports and innovation.

Like the Israeli Children’s Museum in Holon, visitors must join a group tour to get around the interactive, multimedia exhibits dedicated to the historical background, the Israeli experience and highlights of sporting achievements at the Olympic Games.

Tours are offered in English and Hebrew.

Mh – New York Jewish Guide.com

Israel Tourism: 10 Cool things to do in Tel-Aviv for Free

No need to take out your wallet to enjoy these 18 suggestions for touring, trekking and tanning in Israel’s city by the sea- By Sarah Press– @ New York Jewish Guide.com

Relaxing on the beach in Tel Aviv. Photo by Flash90.

Relaxing on the beach in Tel Aviv. Photo by Flash90.

 

Tel Aviv is one of the world’s top destinations. This city-by-the-sea is consistently included by travel magazines among their best picks.

National Geographic fell in love with Tel Aviv’s shoreline.

Conde Nast Traveler magazine highlighted the city’s unique Bauhaus architecture and heaped praise on its ice cream parlors and bars.

Tel Aviv holds the title for World’s Best Gay city. And Travelers Digest voted it a city full of beautiful people.

From beach boardwalks to green parks, trendy shopping to awesome nightclubs, museums to open-air markets, there’s more than enough to do in Tel Aviv.

Even better: There are oodles of free options in the city. ISRAEL21c chose 18 of the best things to do in Tel Aviv without spending a shekel.

1. Beaches

Tel Aviv’s west side is a 13-kilometer (eight-mile) stretch of sandy beaches, prompting National Geographic magazine to call Tel Aviv “Miami Beach on the Med.

You can’t really go wrong no matter where you set down your towel.

Gordon Beach is one of the most famous, attracting tourists, locals, joggers and sun-tanners all year round. Stop by Saturday mornings in winter (11am to 2pm) or evenings in summer (8pm to 10pm) and give public Israeli folk dancing a whirl.

Banana Beach, located on the southernmost edge near Jaffa, draws the bohemian crowds on Friday evenings for drum circles, singing and dancing.

Metzizim Beach draws a smattering of everyone to its sandy shores. Catch a game of matkot (paddleball) or bring your kids to the children’s playground.

Hilton Beach (near the hotel) is the gay beach, and Jerusalem Beach is also very LGBT friendly.

So pack your lotion, towel and good book to read – sandy Tel Aviv on the shoreline of the Mediterranean Sea awaits.

2. Tel Aviv-Jaffa Promenade

The Tel Aviv Promenade.

The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Promenade is a bustling walkway that connects Old Jaffa in the south to the northern neighborhoods of the city. Come here for gorgeous sunsets, people-watching, yummy food at one of the cafés or restaurants along the promenade, or to hear some of the best classical music buskers you’re likely to come across.

3. Hayarkon Park

A spot of fishing in Hayarkon Park. Photo by Flash90.

Known as the green lung of the city, this “Central Park of Tel Aviv” attracts some 16 million visitors every year.

The urban park’s 3.8 square kilometers boast walking paths, bike paths, dozens of children play areas, botanical gardens, extensive lawns, sports facilities, two mini zoos and artificial lakes.

The park also houses paid entertainment options including an aviary, a water park, a climbing wall, a children’s train and paddleboat hire.

You can follow the Yarkon River all the way from North Tel Aviv down to the Mediterranean Sea.

4. Old Jaffa

No visit to Tel Aviv is complete without a hop over to Old Jaffa. It is one of the world’s oldest cities and home to the oldest seaport in the world.

In the last decade, Old Jaffa has become one of the hottest places to be as designers, artists and gourmands move in. Come hungry because street food is abundant and delicious.

Don’t miss the famous Clock Tower, the flea market, restaurants, designer stores, galleries and museums, the Old Port and the Nalaga’at Center artistic complex operated by the Muslim-Christian-Jewish deaf and blind community.

5. Tel Aviv Port

Tel Aviv’s port is one of the city’s main entertainment hubs with trendy shops, bars, nightclubs, cafés and a bustling farmers’ market. Thousands of residents and tourists walk along the uniquely designed wooden deck promenade to take in the salty sea breeze, gorgeous sunsets and to feel the vibe of Tel Aviv.

There’s a huge sand pit for kids to play in. Weekends are busiest, with buskers and balloon artists keeping the crowds entertained. The port also hosts numerous outdoor festivals throughout the year.

6. Carmel Market

This is not just another produce-and-clothing market; the Carmel Market is the heartbeat of Tel Aviv. You don’t have to come to shop. Instead, jostle past the colorful stalls and take in the smells and sights.

Some vendors are known to sing out the prices of their goods – which range from spices to dried fruits, fresh produce to fish and souvenirs. Trendy cafés and gourmet food stands are also part of the scene.

The market runs between the corner of King George and Allenby streets and the Carmelit Bus Station. It is open every day from 7 to dusk, except for Fridays when it closes one hour before the Sabbath.

7. Levinsky Market

The Levinsky Market is the place for spices. And dried fruits, nuts, traditional pastries, boutique cheeses, pickled produce, exotic meat cold cuts and salted fish.

The climax of activity is on Friday mornings, as residents pack narrow Levinsky Street to visit their favorite delicatessens, bakery shops, roasted nut stalls and spice shops.

If you do head to this market, start or end your tour in the neighborhood of Florentin – Tel Aviv’s SoHo of the über cool and working class.

Photography buffs take note: Levinsky Market is one of the best places to shoot in Tel Aviv.

8. Nahalat Binyamin

The Nahalat Binyamin Arts & Crafts Fair takes place every Tuesday and Friday along the pedestrian mall. More than 200 Israeli craftspeople and artists set up stalls to exhibit and sell their unique and often humorous creations.

It’s an outdoor fair with street performers, clowns and musicians providing free entertainment for visitors. The market is open on those two days from 10am until sundown.

9. Neve Tzedek and historic train station (Tachana)

NeveTzedek is one of Tel Aviv’s most beautiful neighborhoods – and historically, was the first neighborhood built outside of Jaffa. It’s perfect for a romantic stroll along the small streets and alleyways and past the beautifully restored buildings.

The Suzanne Dellal Center dance and theater complex sits at the heart of this neighborhood, and a visit to its courtyard is a must.

The neighborhood has hip cafés and gourmet restaurants as well as designer stores, boutique hotels, and lovely shops.

On the southern edge of the neighborhood is the historic train station known as the Tachana. This newly-restored compound now serves as a cultural and shopping center.

10. Bauhaus Architecture

Tel Aviv boasts a treasure trove of exemplary architecture.

One of Tel Aviv’s nicknames is even the White City, thanks to its large number of white Bauhaus(International-style) buildings. In 2003, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed Tel Aviv’s White City a World Cultural Heritage site.

Take a self-guided stroll down Rothschild Boulevard, Dizengoff Street, Bialik Street or through the Neve Tzedek neighborhood to see the best buildings the White City has to offer.

Or, join a city-sponsored free walking tour of Tel Aviv focusing on the architectural styles of the 1930s.

11. Free Walking Tours

The best way to the see the city is on foot and the municipality has set up free, English-language guided tours of Tel Aviv’s top sights as well as a series of go-it-alone tours. For the guided tours, there’s no need for advance booking, just show up at the meeting point.

The White City tour, every Saturday at 11 (except for Yom Kippur) focuses on the Bauhaus architecture along Rothschild Boulevard and tells the story of Tel Aviv. Meeting point: 46 Rothschild Street (corner of Shadal Street).

The Old Jaffa tour, every Wednesday at 9:30am, winds through the Flea Market, the Old City area, past some of the city’s archeological sites and up to Hapisga Garden. Meeting point: Clock Tower.

The Tel Aviv University tour, every Monday at 11am. (except for Jewish holidays, the week of Sukkot, the week of Passover and during the last week of August), gives an introduction to the Israeli architecture on campus, the styles, international influences, stories of buildings and architects, environmental sculpture and landscape design. The tour is offered in cooperation with the Friends of Tel Aviv University. Meeting point: Dyonon bookstore, campus entrance (intersection of Haim Levanon & Einstein streets).

Maps for the DIY self-guided tours can be picked up at the municipality’s Visitor Center.

12. Tel Aviv Greeters

Tel Aviv Greeters offer free walks of the city with local residents. It’s a volunteer program that matches visitors with residents who just want to share their love of the city.

The Tel Aviv Greeters are part of the Global Greeter Network, an informal virtual association of Greeter programs around the world.

Walking the city with a local is a great option for families, groups of friends or solo travelers. The Tel Aviv Greeters will take you wherever you want to go – or take you to one of their most requested hotspots including Neve Tzedek, Yemenite Quarter, Tel Aviv Port, Hayarkon Park, Florentin Quarter, Old Jaffa or even the beach.

It’s totally free and visitors are not allowed to give tips.

13. Culture Square

Tel Aviv is Israel’s culture city. Most of the museums, orchestras, theaters, art galleries, dance venues and music halls come with an entry fee, however.

To get a taste of the city’s arts scene, head over to Culture Square at the end of Rothschild Boulevard. Here you’ll find the historic Mann Auditorium, home to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the recently renovated Habima National Theater and the Helena Rubbinstein in Pavilion for Contemporary Art — all facing a gorgeously designed public courtyard with a small flower garden, water fountain and dozens of families frolicking among them.

The pavilion showcases changing exhibitions, reflecting diverse fields and practices in contemporary Israeli and international art – and is free to the public.

14. Dizengoff Street

Strolling down Dizengoff Street is a favorite pastime for many residents.

For great people-watching or just a place to take a break, park yourself on one of the benches around the Fire & Water Fountain. The fountain is located in Dizengoff Square, which shows off creations by young Israeli industrial, graphic, fashion and plastic designers every Thursday from 4-11pm, and an antique-flea market every Tuesday and Friday.

15. Tel Aviv Rollers

Every Tuesday night in Tel Aviv as many as 400 in-line skaters hit the streets through a loose confederation nicknamed the Rollers. Police escorts are on hand to keep the skaters safe as they zip along a 20-kilometer route past the city’s night spots. If you’ve got a pair of skates, don’t miss this high-energy fun. Meeting point: Habima National Theater, 10pm.

16. Tel Aviv University’s Botanical Gardens

The magnificent Botanical Gardens are located at the heart of Tel Aviv University. Stretching across 34,000 square meters, the gardens serve as a meeting place for the world’s different species of flora and fauna.

Visitors are encouraged to take a closer look at the plant museum from Sunday to Thursday, 8am to 4pm. But call ahead (+972-3-640-9910) because the garden is also used as an outdoor class for students at the university.

17. Rabin Square

The main plaza just outside City Hall is known as Rabin Square, named for Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He was assassinated on November 4, 1995, after a peace rally in this square.

A monument to Rabin stands at the spot where he was killed. Israeli sculptor Yael Ben-Artzi used 16 basalt stones from the Golan Heights and sunk them into the earth to symbolize Rabin’s deep connection to the land.

18. Ben-Gurion House

One of the smallest museums and likely the most overlooked is Ben-Gurion House, a historic house museum at 17 Ben-Gurion Boulevard that served as an additional residence for Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.

Visitors can see Ben-Gurion’s library, his family’s sleeping quarters and the study where he worked. Take a free guided tour of the house and learn about Ben-Gurion’s life work.

 

mh- New York Jewish Guide.com

Tel Aviv named one of world’s best beach cities

National Geographic places TA at number 9 in list of Top 10 Beach Cities; Barcelona, Cape Town, Honolulu take top 3 spots.                                                       By Yoni Cohen- @New York Jewish Guide.com

Tel Aviv beach

Tel Aviv beach Photo: Hadas Parush

Confirming something that its residents have known for years, Tel Aviv has been voted as one of the best beach cities in the world. Joining the likes of Miami and Rio de Janeiro, National Geographic has included Tel Aviv in its list of the “Top 10 Beach Cities.”

“Tel Aviv is the Dionysian counterpart to religious Jerusalem,” according to the list featured in the popular magazine, which is celebrating 125 years. “In the ‘bubble,’ as it’s known for its inhabitants’ tendency to tune out regional skirmishes, some restaurants, discos, and clubs are open until dawn,” the description continued.

Of all of Tel Aviv’s beaches, only Gordon beach was mentioned by name. “Head to wide and sandy Gordon Beach to sit in a seaside café or take a dip in the saltwater pool,” recommends National Geographic.

Barcelona in Spain was voted as the number one in the list, followed by Cape Town in South Africa, with Honolulu in Hawaii taking third place.

telavivbeach10

Tel Aviv and its beaches have been included in a number of similar lists recently. In 2012 Lonely Planet ranked Tel Aviv as one of the world’s most vibrant cities for nightlife and among the best hedonistic city breaks.

Also last year, LGBT travel website Gaycities.com included the city’s Hilton Beach in its annual list of the 10 best gay beaches in the world.

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mh- New York Jewish Guide.com

Israelis build world’s first eye free smartphone

Project RAY, now launching in the US, opens the benefits of digital access to commercial and public services to people with visual disabilities

By Abigail Klein Leichman- @ New York Jewish Guide.com

project-ray-phone

The world’s first smartphone for people with visual disabilities, already making daily life easier for many Israelis, is launching in the United States in collaboration with Qualcomm, Amazon and T-Mobile.

Three Israelis poured extensive mobile telecommunications experience into project Ray. They leveraged advanced smartphone technologies (multiple sensors, camera, compass and audio) and communication services (phone, messaging and cloud) to give users greater independence and accessibility to essential public digital services.

This ambitious idea took root when Michael Vakulenko, Boaz Zilberman and Arik Siegel began volunteering for the Israeli Library for the Blind about three years ago. Having led successful companies such as Fring and Giant Steps — and each with a “soft spot” for the vision-impaired community, as Zilberman puts it — they offered to help digitize access to the audio book collection.

At the time, members had to call the library to order the title, wait to receive the CD by mail, install a special reader on their computer, and then send back the disk when they were finished with the book.

“We thought how to make this content available on a smartphone, bringing the experience to the 21st century,” Vakulenko tells ISRAEL21c. Library in My Pocket (SeferPhone, in Israel) eventually became reality, in partnership with the US-based Qualcomm Wireless Reach Initiative
But along the way, the trio of high-tech execs became determined to offer a broader solution to a problem whose surface they had merely scratched.

Crossing the digital divide

“A visually impaired person depends daily on a large set of gadgets,” Vakulenko says. “They have to master a different user interface for each one, and drag around a whole suitcase of expensive accessories. An MP3 player for the visually impaired costs more than NIS 2,000, for example.”

The three men decided to start a company to put everything together in one cloud-connected, powerful smartphone powered by software designed especially for those without sight.

“This did not exist anywhere in the world. There have been multiple attempts to make smartphones accessible, but this is usually piecemeal solutions for specific tasks,” Vakulenko explains.

They believed that establishing a fully commercial platform for the device could narrow the growing digital divide between the sighted and the non-sighted.

“We who are sighted enjoy the benefits of digital access to commercial and public services, and that is not usually accessible to non-sighted people,” Vakulenko points out. “Only about 10 percent of blind people can use PCs, and even less can use iPhones. Those who can’t are really left behind; missing out on the benefits that modern technology can give them.”

Karina uses RAY to order and listen to audio books.
Karina uses RAY to order and listen to audio books.

Founded in January 2012 with funding from the Israeli Office of the Chief Scientist and Qualcomm, Project RAY resides in the Israeli incubator Explore Ventures. The first commercial version of the RAY smartphone launched in Israel within a year.

About 10 RAY devices are delivered every week, and several hundred customers are on a waiting list. There are some 27,000 legally blind Israelis, plus many others with severe visual disabilities that prevent them from using digital devices, Vakulenko says.

In the United States, the RAY phone and mobile package was introduced at the June 6 M

Enabling  in Washington, DC and is available through T-Mobile virtual network operator Odin Mobile, which provides mobile service for people with visual impairment.
How it works

Once they had their concept, Project RAY’s founders and staff of seven — two of them visually impaired – spent two years devising software for a flat touch-screen that a blind person could operate easily. “We get the device as is from manufacturers, and put our software on top of it,” explains Zilberman.

The RAY smartphone has a flat touch screen.
The RAY smartphone has a flat touch screen.

Braille wasn’t a practical solution because few of the world’s 285 million visually impaired people (39 million legally blind and 246 million with low vision) know how to read Braille bumps with their fingers.

“We finally made a breakthrough when we understood how to use a flat touch-screen without sight,” says Vakulenko.

Users need just about 30 minutes of training to learn how to touch the screen anywhere to create a dynamic user interface with an audio prompt. Lifting their finger selects the command.

In addition to the audio library app, the phone has SMS and GPS functions, as well as a calendar and address book synched with the cloud server so that a seeing person can populate them remotely. A color detector app helps users match their clothing, and a banknote app allows for identifying money.

A visual assistance app, coordinated through MobileWorks in Silicon Valley, allows the user to receive a real-time description of a photograph. In development now is a transportation assistance application that guides users through the entire process of getting from Point A to Point B using public transportation and/or taxis.

“We are working on an ever-growing set of breakthrough services that weren’t possible before,” says Vakulenko. Soon, users will be able to point RAY’s camera at an obstacle blocking their path, and be talked around it by a family member or volunteer looking in real time at the picture transmitted from the RAY device.

“A big part of the value is really making the whole communal support system easier,” says Vakulenko. “For many people with visual disabilities, much of daily life involves family member support and RAY makes this safety net available to the blind user anytime, everywhere.”

Project RAY is currently seeking socially conscious investors to help bring its digital accessibility services to more people in North America, Europe and beyond.

 

mh- New York Jewish Guide.com